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Yuma Elementary kicks off First Book program

December 22nd, 2011 3:58 am by Staff Report

YUMA — Yuma Elementary School kicked off a new program this week that is designed to improve literacy and foster a love of reading by providing students in all grade levels with free books.

Yuma Elementary School Principal Kathy Musick said they began the program after it was awarded a nearly $2,700 grant from the nonprofit organization First Book of Greater Kingsport.

“The program is made so students can get a book a month,” Musick said. “So every month, starting at Christmas, the students will get to take a book home, and it will be theirs.

“The beauty of it is the teachers can choose the book so it goes along with the curriculum. The sixth-grade students took home the diary of Anne Frank, and that’s what they’re studying in the classroom. So over Christmas, they can read that and come back and have discussion and dialogue about what they read.”

The grant will allow the school to purchase one book for each student for at least the next six months, Musick said.

Students were excited to receive the first round of books, Musick said, which ranged from the Brown Bear series for kindergartners to a dictionary for students in fifth grade.

There were three kindergarten kids reading books after class,” Musick said. “They were sitting there reading to each other, and it really did your heart good to know that they are going to cherish these books.”

First Book of Greater Kingsport was founded in 2004 and is part of a larger nonprofit organization that has distributed 85 million books and educational materials nationwide to programs and schools that serve children from low-income families.

Musick said two separate studies have shown that interest in reading triples among children who participate in the First Book program and that more than 70 percent of children in the program read more at home.

“Most of the volunteers that were there were either former teachers or librarians, and they know what a difference literacy makes,” Musick said. “Of course the whole push of the First Book program, and our school and all schools at the elementary level, is to teach that love of reading so it grows and matures with them.

“It’s a great program and a great opportunity to give the gift of literacy.”

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